A lilting accent, part proper British and part rhythmic Caribbean, drifts on the breeze as the ferries chug in and out of the picturesque harbor. Golf carts clog the roads while the sun sets spectacularly over the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s nothing special—just another day in the life on the island called Spanish Wells.
Spanish Wells is an anomaly in the archipelago of the Bahama Islands. It is hidden in the midst of many uninhabited cays that surround the northern tip of the island called Eleuthera. It’s a two mile long limestone rock that is home-sweet-home to the two thousand people that live there. These people are mostly blonde-haired and blue-eyed but this is not a long lost Viking colony. They are the descendants of the Eleutherian Adventurers who came to the Bahamas from Bermuda in the mid-1600s searching for religious freedom.
The adventurers’ search for freedom started out with a disaster when they got snared on a reef, but they found shelter inside a cave on the beach of a neighboring island. They struggled to survive by farming and eventually a few of the settlers decided to try a new location. They waded through the clear blue water to another island about half a mile away. That island was Spanish Wells.
These settlers bonded and grew through their religion and shared tribulations. They faced disastrous hurricanes and bouts of disease together. They leaned on each other for support and never left the island in great numbers. They had found their niche. They learned to depend on the sea for their subsistence. They became expert fishermen and the tradition has been passed down throughout the generations.
The fishermen run their boats using the same quiet efficiency that they were taught by their fathers. With new technology they’ve upgraded their fishing vessels but still use standard spears and often dive free breath. The young men of the island are continually taught and trained in the art of crawfish-ing. Fathers teach their sons to dive and shoot a spear almost as soon as they can swim- which is learned as soon as they can walk.
They have everything that they need on this little island perched in a quiet corner of the ideal vacation destination. The islanders are bound by family and religion.
While other small islands and towns over the world are experiencing a ‘brain drain,’ Spanish Wells is still abundant in young people. They don’t feel the need to leave what they feel is one of the safest and most beautiful places on this side of the globe.
So today, although tinged with technology, Spanish Wells operates in almost the same way that it has for centuries. It is still populated by descendants bearing the original settlers' surnames.
The islanders go about their days with a kind of sweet similarity. Spanish Wells and its people are a world apart from their own country. A Bahamian historian, Paul Albury, concludes that “Spanish Wells is a microcosm, a world unto itself, utterly different from any other part of Eleuthera, or of the Bahamas, for that matter.”
So, this tiny, hidden island, nestled between a busy harbor and an unspoiled stretch of pink beach, is found only by those people who go looking for it. It has stayed hidden for centuries, and that’s just the way the islanders like it. Why go looking for more when you are living in paradise.